The College of Charleston will hold spring 2021 Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on May 6, 7 and 8. Because of continued COVID-19 precautions, the ceremonies will be held in two outdoor locations, including the College of Charleston Patriots Point Soccer Stadium and the Cistern Yard.

A limited number of in-person guests will be allowed at the ceremony at Patriots Point. Satellite locations will be set up for guests to view ceremonies held in the Cistern Yard. All ceremonies will be livestreamed on the College of Charleston’s website and Facebook page. Sunday, May 9, will serve as a make-up date for any weather-impacted ceremonies.

If necessitated by health-related concerns or mandates by local, state or federal guidance, the College reserves the right to make changes to ceremony plans, including the number of in-person guests allowed after the release of tickets. Guests are encouraged to seek refundable travel plans where possible.

The schedule of ceremonies will run as follows:

Thursday, May 6 Ceremony

  • Thursday, May 6, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Ceremony at College of Charleston Patriots Point Soccer Stadium with in-person guests with all seven schools participating

Friday, May 7 Ceremonies

  • Friday, May 7, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. – Ceremony for School of Humanities and Social Sciences in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with satellite locations for guests
  • Friday, May 7, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Ceremony for the Graduate School; School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs and School of Sciences and Mathematics in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with satellite locations for guests

Saturday, May 8 Ceremonies

  • Saturday, May 8, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. – Ceremony for School of Business in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with satellite locations for guests
  • Saturday, May 8, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. – Ceremony for School of the Arts and School of Education, Health, and Human Performance in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with satellite locations for guests
  • Saturday, May 8, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Ceremony for all seven schools for anyone who changes their participation selection to Cistern Yard or elects to participate in Cistern Yard after 12 p.m., March 31 (students who apply to graduate for the first time will still be placed in one of the above ceremonies) in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with satellite locations for guests

Cistern Yard ceremonies, with named school participation outlined above, are now completely full. Any student who received the participation survey and wants to make a change to participate in a Cistern Yard ceremony will be added to the ceremony on Saturday, May 8, at 4 p.m. The deadline for graduates to make any changes to their commencement selection or to be added to a ceremony is Tuesday, April 27, at 12 p.m. Please note that a graduation application is required before a student is eligible to participate in a ceremony. 

The structure of commencement ceremonies are based on a survey of 2,107 eligible candidates for graduation. A total of 63% of respondents favored the traditional ceremony in the Cistern Yard without an in-person audience due to COVID-19 restrictions, while 37% favored a ceremony off the CofC main campus in an outdoor venue to allow for an in-person audience. Based on that feedback, the College’s Patriots Point Soccer Stadium was selected as the outdoor venue to host a commencement ceremony with guests.

COVID-19 Protocols

Guests: In order to keep social distance in Cistern Yard, guests are not permitted at these ceremonies. This, unfortunately, has no exceptions. No guests of any type, including family members, friends or faculty, can be present. Only your school’s dean will participate as part of a scaled back platform party.

For the ceremony at Patriots Point, each participant will receive four general admission tickets. For the ceremonies in Cistern Yard, each participant will receive two general admission tickets for a satellite location. 

COVID-19 testing will be available for students, faculty, staff, families and the greater Charleston community on May 4 at the Stern Student Center at the corner of Glebe and George streets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Face Coverings: Face coverings must always be worn correctly at all times except as noted. As you line-up to have your name called, three photographs will be taken in quick succession, and you do not have to wear your face covering for these photographs. Your covering can stay off for these three professional photo shots: No 1. before your name is called in the line-up; No. 2. at a safe social distance on the Cistern or on stage at Patriots Point field with President Hsu; and No. 3. immediately after the photo with President Hsu. Note: There will be no diplomas handed out and no handshakes. After your three photographs have been taken, please immediately put your face covering back on.

Social Distancing: This will be a no-contact event, and social distancing is mandatory. Master’s graduates will process wearing their hoods, instead of the traditional “hooding” of graduates.

Virtual Viewing: The ceremonies will be livestreamed, and approximately three weeks later, the ceremony videos will be available on the commencement website.

Satellite Locations: For the Cistern Yard ceremonies, Rivers Green, Stern Garden and the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building’s Courtyard will be set up as livestreaming satellite locations. Guests with tickets will be accommodated at the satellite locations on a first-come/first-served basis. Once the capacity of a venue is reached, guests will be directed to another site. Some chairs will be available, and guests are welcome to bring a blanket (no folding chairs) for the ground. There will be limited indoor seating for those who need relief from the heat.

For complete information on spring 2021 Commencement, visit the Commencement Information website.